Highams Park charity Clarity vows to launch legal proceedings if Stephen Steppens does not move on Friday

Stephen Steppen could be forced out on the street by his landowner and employee Clarity

Stephen Steppen could be forced out on the street by his landowner and employee Clarity

First published in News
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East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A blind man and his guide dog could be made homeless by a disabled charity which is looking to sell-off his home. 

Stephen Steppens, 54, has worked for Clarity, a 160 year-old charity employing blind and disabled people in Highams Park, for nearly three decades. 

Mr Steppens lives with his black Labrador, Owen, in a house owned by the charity in Bruce Grove, Tottenham.

He was been employed by the charity which makes toiletries and cleaning products for 29 years and moved into one of four terraced houses owned by Clarity in February 2006 after having a bad experience on a council estate in Islington. 

The receptionist said he believed it would be his home for life as  the homes, erected in memory of the charity's founder Elizabeth Gilbert, were held under a protected trust.  

But he has now been served a repossession order twice by the charity and has been given until Friday to leave or face legal action. 

The 54-year-old blind since birth says he has nowhere to go. 

"It is very stressful and very upsetting as I enjoy my home and have a very trusted neighbour,” he said. 

"I like the company and the job I do but I need stability.

“It's very difficult to talk about the depression I have felt since finding out they want to evict me, and the thought of moving again is a very daunting prospect. 

"My worst fear is being homeless with Owen. I've got no family in the area, there is no-one for me to live with.”

A part-time staff member and two former employees have vacated the three other homes in Bruce Grove voluntarily and moved in with family members.  

Mr Steppens has sought the support of trade union, Community, who is making a last-ditch attempt today to avert Friday's eviction.       

Bev Bambrough, education and equalities director at Community, said: "Being evicted will be devastating for Stephen. We are astonished how Clarity is treating a loyal and hard-working employee. 

"Clarity was established to support blind people and help them become independent but evicting Stephen from his home seems far away from that objective. 

"Being blind, Stephen’s home needs to be set up in a very particular way, which makes it difficult for him to find a suitable alternative. 

"We hope Clarity will recognise their moral duty to help Stephen and won’t evict him on Friday."

Mr Steppens and representatives from Community and Tottenham MP David Lammy's office will be meeting with Clarity's CEO Jeremy Robinson this afternoon. 

Mr Robinson has declined to comment. 

Comments (5)

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11:50am Wed 30 Jul 14

Villagecranberry says...

160 years for three decades is a long time in Guardian Reporter speak.
160 years for three decades is a long time in Guardian Reporter speak. Villagecranberry
  • Score: 0

12:45pm Wed 30 Jul 14

Debbie2312 says...

CEO Jeremy Robinson declines to speak! I bet he does. The founder Elizabeth Gilbert must be turning in her grave. If these homes are under a protected trust I am not sure how they have got around this, but even if they have got around this legally, morally this is not on. This is pure greed. If this goes ahead you can hardly call yourself a charity any more.
Stephen, I wish you and Owen all the best and hope things get sorted for you.
CEO Jeremy Robinson declines to speak! I bet he does. The founder Elizabeth Gilbert must be turning in her grave. If these homes are under a protected trust I am not sure how they have got around this, but even if they have got around this legally, morally this is not on. This is pure greed. If this goes ahead you can hardly call yourself a charity any more. Stephen, I wish you and Owen all the best and hope things get sorted for you. Debbie2312
  • Score: 15

6:07pm Wed 30 Jul 14

Legal Officer says...

Statement regarding Stephen Steppens 30 July 2014

Parties pull together to support blind Londoner at risk of eviction by celebrity backed disability charity

A meeting was held today with CLARITY’s Chief Executive and Community Union and David Lammy MP’s senior case worker to find a way of resolving the possible eviction of blind charity worker Stephen Steppens.

Legal proceedings had been proposed by CLARITY as part of a process to enable them to sell Stephen’s house to raise working capital to allow the charity to expand its work with disabled people.

Community Union’s Director of Education and Equalities Bev Bambrough attended with Legal Officer Grant Williams and senior caseworker from David Lammy MP’s office Daisy Goodman.

It soon became clear that the suggestion of legal proceedings was founded on a procedural requirement, and a plan was agreed to work with local Councils to secure appropriate sheltered accommodation for Stephen, which would mean that he had the right kind of housing for him and his guide-dog Owen, with the peace of mind that comes with a secure tenancy.

Bev Bambrough said “We are really pleased that everyone has engaged in a positive manner to work out a plan that will see Stephen housed in a way that meets his needs and CLARITY are able to continue to provide sustainable employment to disabled Londoners who would otherwise not have the dignity and lives that work provides.

Disability employment faces many challenges, but it does an amazing job, working in tough commercial environments and making a real difference to the lives of many disabled people. That’s why continuation of Work Choice, better use of Article 19 public procurement protocols and a wider recognition of the importance of employers such as CLARITY is really important.

CLARITY didn’t have to engage with this process, and it is very much to their credit that they did. We look forward to working with David Lammy MP, the local authority and CLARITY over the coming weeks to bring this matter to a resolution which meets all parties’ needs, particularly Stephen’s”.
Statement regarding Stephen Steppens 30 July 2014 Parties pull together to support blind Londoner at risk of eviction by celebrity backed disability charity A meeting was held today with CLARITY’s Chief Executive and Community Union and David Lammy MP’s senior case worker to find a way of resolving the possible eviction of blind charity worker Stephen Steppens. Legal proceedings had been proposed by CLARITY as part of a process to enable them to sell Stephen’s house to raise working capital to allow the charity to expand its work with disabled people. Community Union’s Director of Education and Equalities Bev Bambrough attended with Legal Officer Grant Williams and senior caseworker from David Lammy MP’s office Daisy Goodman. It soon became clear that the suggestion of legal proceedings was founded on a procedural requirement, and a plan was agreed to work with local Councils to secure appropriate sheltered accommodation for Stephen, which would mean that he had the right kind of housing for him and his guide-dog Owen, with the peace of mind that comes with a secure tenancy. Bev Bambrough said “We are really pleased that everyone has engaged in a positive manner to work out a plan that will see Stephen housed in a way that meets his needs and CLARITY are able to continue to provide sustainable employment to disabled Londoners who would otherwise not have the dignity and lives that work provides. Disability employment faces many challenges, but it does an amazing job, working in tough commercial environments and making a real difference to the lives of many disabled people. That’s why continuation of Work Choice, better use of Article 19 public procurement protocols and a wider recognition of the importance of employers such as CLARITY is really important. CLARITY didn’t have to engage with this process, and it is very much to their credit that they did. We look forward to working with David Lammy MP, the local authority and CLARITY over the coming weeks to bring this matter to a resolution which meets all parties’ needs, particularly Stephen’s”. Legal Officer
  • Score: 9

7:39pm Wed 30 Jul 14

Forty-two says...

Utterly disgusting for a charity to do this to someone they should be trying to support.
Utterly disgusting for a charity to do this to someone they should be trying to support. Forty-two
  • Score: 6

7:45pm Wed 30 Jul 14

Villagecranberry says...

Legal Officer wrote:
Statement regarding Stephen Steppens 30 July 2014

Parties pull together to support blind Londoner at risk of eviction by celebrity backed disability charity

A meeting was held today with CLARITY’s Chief Executive and Community Union and David Lammy MP’s senior case worker to find a way of resolving the possible eviction of blind charity worker Stephen Steppens.

Legal proceedings had been proposed by CLARITY as part of a process to enable them to sell Stephen’s house to raise working capital to allow the charity to expand its work with disabled people.

Community Union’s Director of Education and Equalities Bev Bambrough attended with Legal Officer Grant Williams and senior caseworker from David Lammy MP’s office Daisy Goodman.

It soon became clear that the suggestion of legal proceedings was founded on a procedural requirement, and a plan was agreed to work with local Councils to secure appropriate sheltered accommodation for Stephen, which would mean that he had the right kind of housing for him and his guide-dog Owen, with the peace of mind that comes with a secure tenancy.

Bev Bambrough said “We are really pleased that everyone has engaged in a positive manner to work out a plan that will see Stephen housed in a way that meets his needs and CLARITY are able to continue to provide sustainable employment to disabled Londoners who would otherwise not have the dignity and lives that work provides.

Disability employment faces many challenges, but it does an amazing job, working in tough commercial environments and making a real difference to the lives of many disabled people. That’s why continuation of Work Choice, better use of Article 19 public procurement protocols and a wider recognition of the importance of employers such as CLARITY is really important.

CLARITY didn’t have to engage with this process, and it is very much to their credit that they did. We look forward to working with David Lammy MP, the local authority and CLARITY over the coming weeks to bring this matter to a resolution which meets all parties’ needs, particularly Stephen’s”.
Wriggle and squirm.
[quote][p][bold]Legal Officer[/bold] wrote: Statement regarding Stephen Steppens 30 July 2014 Parties pull together to support blind Londoner at risk of eviction by celebrity backed disability charity A meeting was held today with CLARITY’s Chief Executive and Community Union and David Lammy MP’s senior case worker to find a way of resolving the possible eviction of blind charity worker Stephen Steppens. Legal proceedings had been proposed by CLARITY as part of a process to enable them to sell Stephen’s house to raise working capital to allow the charity to expand its work with disabled people. Community Union’s Director of Education and Equalities Bev Bambrough attended with Legal Officer Grant Williams and senior caseworker from David Lammy MP’s office Daisy Goodman. It soon became clear that the suggestion of legal proceedings was founded on a procedural requirement, and a plan was agreed to work with local Councils to secure appropriate sheltered accommodation for Stephen, which would mean that he had the right kind of housing for him and his guide-dog Owen, with the peace of mind that comes with a secure tenancy. Bev Bambrough said “We are really pleased that everyone has engaged in a positive manner to work out a plan that will see Stephen housed in a way that meets his needs and CLARITY are able to continue to provide sustainable employment to disabled Londoners who would otherwise not have the dignity and lives that work provides. Disability employment faces many challenges, but it does an amazing job, working in tough commercial environments and making a real difference to the lives of many disabled people. That’s why continuation of Work Choice, better use of Article 19 public procurement protocols and a wider recognition of the importance of employers such as CLARITY is really important. CLARITY didn’t have to engage with this process, and it is very much to their credit that they did. We look forward to working with David Lammy MP, the local authority and CLARITY over the coming weeks to bring this matter to a resolution which meets all parties’ needs, particularly Stephen’s”.[/p][/quote]Wriggle and squirm. Villagecranberry
  • Score: -2

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